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1961–Appearing at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Concert at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, in Long Beach, California, The Beach Boys play their first show under that name. Prior to this, they called themselves The Pendletons and/or Carl and the Passions.

192–Roman Emperor Commodus dies from being stangled in his bath by his wrestling partner Narcissus, in Rome, Italy, at age 31. His death marked the end of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.

335–Pope Sylvester I dies in Rome, Italy.

406–Vandals, Alans and Suebians, cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul.

535–Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Gothic garrison of Palermo (Panormos).

870–The Vikings clash with ealdorman, Æthelwulf of Berkshire. The invaders are driven back to Reading (East Anglia), and many Danes are killed.

1225–The Ly dynasty of Vietnam ends after 216 years, by the enthronement of the boy emperor, Tran Thai Tong, husband of the last Ly monarch, Ly Chieu Hoang. The Tran dynasty begins.

1229–James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (present-day Palma, Spain), consummating the Christian reconquest of the island of Majorca.

1378–Pope Callixtus III is born Alfons de Borja in Canals, Valencia, Crown of Aragon. He was the last pope to take the pontifical name of "Callixtus" upon his election. He was also responsible for the retrial of Joan of Arc, which saw her vindicated. Callixtus III was the uncle of Pope Alexander VI.

1572–Emperor Go-Yozel of Japan is born Katahito in Japan. His reign spanned the years from 1586 through 1611, corresponding to the transition between the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the Edo period.

1600–The British East India Company is chartered.

1660–James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France.

1687–The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.

1696–A window tax is imposed in England, causing many householders to brick up their windows to avoid taxation.

1741–Princess Isabella of Parma is born Isabella Maria Luisa Antonietta Ferdinanda Giuseppina Saveria Domenica Giovanna at Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid, Spain.

1757–Empress Elizabeth I of Russia issues her ukase, incorporating Königsberg into Russia.

1759–Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and begins brewing Guinness.

1790–Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived until today, is published for the first time.

1796–Baltimore, Maryland, is incorporated as a city.

1831–Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.

1853–A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an iguanodon, created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen, in south London, England.

1857–Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, at the time a small logging town, as the capital of Canada.

1860–Businessman, Joseph S. Cullinan, is born in Pulaski Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. He founded The Texas Company, which would eventually be known as Texaco Incorporated. His lifetime business endeavors would help shape the early phase of the oil industry in Texas.

1862–Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, dividing Virginia in two states.

1869–Painter and sculptor, Henri Matisse, is born Henri-Émile-Benoît Matissein Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, France. When he was 21, his appendix burst, and he tried painting while he was recovering in the hospital. Soon afterward, he studied art in Paris. He is known for both his use of color and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century.

1877–French painter and champion of the Realist Movement, Gustave Courbet, dies of a liver disease aggravated by heavy drinking in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland, at age 58. As an artist, his innovations created the bridge between the Romantic Movement and the Barbizon School and Impressionism. His influence was seen as far forward as the Cubist movement, for which he was praised by none other than Guillaume Apollinaire, who called him the “Father of the New Painters.”

1878–Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, files for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine.

1878–Businesswoman, Elizabeth Arden, is born Florence Nightingale Graham in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. She founded Elizabeth Arden, Inc. In her salons and through her marketing campaigns, Elizabeth Arden stressed teaching women how to apply makeup, and pioneered such concepts as scientific formulation of cosmetics, beauty makeovers, and coordinating colors of eye, lip, and facial makeup. She established makeup as proper and appropriate for a ladylike image, although prior to this time, makeup had often been associated with lower classes and prostitutes. At the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

1879–Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1882–Politician, Léon Gambetta, dies of intestine or stomach cancer in Sèvres, France, at age 44. He was the 45th Prime Minister of France.

1890–Ellis Island, in New York City, opens as a U.S. immigration depot.

1904–The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square), in New York City.

1905–Songwriter, Jule Styne, is born Julius Kerwin Stein in London, England. He is best known for a series of Broadway musicals, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing, Gypsy, Do Re Mi, Funny Girl, and Sugar. His collaborators included Sammy Cahn, Leo Robin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, and Bob Merrill. His best known songs include The Christmas Waltz, Don’t Rain on My Parade, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, It’s Magic, People, Time After Time, and Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!

1906–Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar signs the Persian Constitution.

1907–The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York.

1909–The Manhattan Bridge opens in New York.

1910–Pioneer aviator, John Moisant, dies in a plane crash in Kenner, Louisiana, at age 42. He was making a preparatory flight in his attempt to win the 1910 Michelin Cup and its $4,000 prize. Known as the "King of Aviators," he was an aeronautical engineer, flight instructor, businessman, and revolutionary.

1920–Actor, Rex (Elvie) Allen, is born in Willcox, Arizona. He is best known as the “Arizona Cowboy,” and narrator of many Disney nature and Western film productions. He appeared in the films Hills of Oklahoma, Silver City Bonanza, Old Overland Trail, Down Loredo Way, and Red River Shore.

1923–In England, the BBC begins using the “Big Ben” chime ID.

1928–Professional poker player, Amarillo Slim, is born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr. in Johnson, Arkansas. He won the 1972 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.

1929–Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians play Auld Lang Syne as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.

1930–Folksinger, Odetta, is born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Alabama. She was a songwriter and civil and human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement." Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, she was influential to many of the folksingers of that time.

1937–Actor, (Phillip) Anthony Hopkins, is born in Margam, Glamorgan, Wales. He appeared in the films The White Bus, The Lion in Winter, Hamlet, Young Winston, A Doll’s House, A Bridge Too Far, Audrey Rose, Magic, The Elephant Man, A Change of Seasons, The Bounty, 84 Charing Cross Road, The Silence of the Lambs, Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Shadowlands, Legends of the Fall, Surviving Picasso, Proof, and Hitchcock.

1940–As a result of a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers and Publishers), the radio industry is prevented from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasts for 10 months. An ASCAP competitor, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) made giant strides, expanding to include 36,000 copyrights. But many radio stations had to resort to playing public domain songs, such as marches and operas, to keep their stations on the air.

1941–Actress, Sarah Miles, is born in Ingatestone, Essex, England. She appeared in the films Term of Trial, The Servant, The Ceremony, Blowup, Ryan’s Daughter, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Great Expectations, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Steaming, and Hope and Glory.

1942–Andy Summers, of The Police, is born Andrew James Summers in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, England. He was voted number one pop guitarist for five years in Guitar Player magazine, before being inducted into the Guitar Player Hall of Fame.

1943–Folksinger, John Denver, is born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. in Roswell, New Mexico. He was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s, and one of its best-selling artists. Throughout his life, Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with total sales of over 33 million. His hits include Take Me Home, Country Roads, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders, Annie’s Song, and Thank God I’m a Country Boy.

1943–Peter Quaife, bass player for The Kinks, is born Peter Alexander Greenlaw Kinnes in Tavistock, Devon, England. The group’s hits include You Really Got Me and All Day and All of the Night.

1944–Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany.

1944–During World War II, Operation Nordwind begins as the last major German offensive on the Western Front.

1944–Film director, Taylor (Edwin) Hackford, is born in Santa Barbara, California. His films include The Idolmaker, An Officer and a Gentleman, Against All Odds, White Nights, Everybody’s All-American, Dolores Claiborne, The Devil’s Advocate, and Ray. He was married to actress, Helen Mirren.

1946–President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.

1946–Fashion designer, Diane von Fürstenberg, is born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin in Brussels, Belgium. The DVF label is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. She was married to Prince Egon of Fürstenberg and media mogul, Barry Diller.

1947–Western performers, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, are married.

1947–Burton (Lorne) Cummings, lead singer of The Guess Who, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The band had many hit songs, including American Woman, No Time, Share the Land, Hand Me Down World, Laughing, Star Baby, New Mother Nature, and These Eyes.

1948–Disco queen, Donna Summer, is born LaDonna Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts. Summer sold over 140 million records, making her one of the world's best-selling artists of all time. Her hits include Love to Love You Baby, I Feel Love, Last Dance, MacArthur Park, Heaven Knows, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, Dim All the Lights, and On the Radio.

1951–The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.

1955–General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion in a year.

1959–Actor, Val (Edward) Kilmer, is born in Los Angeles, California. He appeared in the films Top Secret!, Real Genius, Top Gun, Willow, The Doors, Thunderheart, Tombstone, True Romance, Batman Forever, Heat, and Wonderland. His distant cousin is poet, Joyce Kilmer. He was married to actress, Joanne Whalley.

1960–The farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.

1961–RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster, launches its first national television service.

1961–Appearing at the Ritchie Valens Memorial Concert at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, in Long Beach, California, The Beach Boys play their first show under that name. Prior to this, they called themselves The Pendletons and/or Carl and the Passions.

1961–Rocker, Janis Joplin, has her first singing engagement at the Halfway House in Beaumont, Texas.

1962–The Beatles perform at the Star-Club in Hamburg, West Germany. This is the final night of their fifth, and final, visit to Hamburg. The Beatles’ performance is recorded by Ted “Kingsize” Taylor (of The Dominoes). The recording has since become known as “The Star-Club Tapes,” and the tracks, first released in 1977, have been extensively re-issued. The ex-Beatles opposed the release of the recordings, due primarily to their very poor sound quality. The recordings do, nonetheless, provide a fascinating glimpse, however slight, of the early Beatles. The original tapes were auctioned in August 1992. Although they didn’t know it at the time, their apprenticeship in Hamburg was completed, and The Beatles were ready to move into national, and then international fame.

1962–Potter and artist, Heather McCartney, is born Heather Louise See in Tucson, Arizona. Her mother was Linda Eastman McCartney. She was adopted by Paul McCartney at the age of six, and considers him to be her father. Her half-siblings are Mary, Stella, and James McCartney. Her step-sister is Beatrice McCartney.

1963–The Central African Federation officially collapses, subsequently becoming Zambia, Malawi, and Rhodesia.

1965–Jean-Bédel Bokassa (leader of the Central African Republic army) and his military officers begin a coup d'état against the government of President David Dacko.

1967–The Youth International Party, popularly known as the "Yippies," is founded.

1968–The first flight of the Tupolev Tu-144 takes place. It is the first civilian supersonic transport aircraft.

1968–A chart topper: Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell.

1971–Actor, Pete Duel, dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Hollywood, California, at age 31. Duel's funeral was held at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Pacific Palisades, California: an estimated 1,000 friends and fans attended. He is best known for the role of outlaw Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith) in the TV series Alias Smith and Jones. He also co-starred in the TV shows Gidget and Love on a Rooftop.

1972–Joey McIntyre, of New Kids on the Block, is born Joseph Mulrey McIntyre in Needham, Massachusetts. They became one of the most successful boy bands of the late 20th century, producing two number one albums on the Billboard pop charts.

1974–A document signed by all four of The Beatles confirms the dissolution of their partnership.

1974–Popular Electronics magazine displays the Altair 8800 computer.

1976–A chart topper: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Leo Sayer.

1977–Businessman, Donald (John) Trump, Jr., is born in Manhattan, New York. He is Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization. His father is real estate developer, Donald Trump. His mother is model, Ivana Trump. His siblings are Ivanka and Eric Trump. He is married to model, Vanessa Haydon.

1979–John Lennon and Yoko Ono dissolve most of their companies, including Bag Productions Ltd. and Joko Films Ltd.

1980–Marshall McLuhan dies in his sleep in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at age 69. A philosopher of communication theory, his work is considered to be the foundation of modern media theory. McLuhan coined the phrases "the medium is the message" and "the global village." He also predicted the advent of the Internet, nearly 30 years before its invention.

1981–A coup d'état in Ghana removes President Hilla Limann's PNP government and replaces it with the Provisional National Defence Council, led by Flight lieutenant, Jerry Rawlings.

1982–One of New York City's longest running rock clubs, Max's Kansas City, closes.

1983–The AT&T Bell System monopoly is broken up by the U.S. Government.

1983–In Nigeria, a coup d'état led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari ends the Second Nigerian Republic.

1985–The United Kingdom founds a member state of UNESCO.

1985–Singer, Rick Nelson, dies in a plane crash near De Kalb, Texas, at age 45. A rock and roll idol who gave Elvis Presley a run for his money, Ricky Nelson had numerous hits, including Believe What You Say, Hello Mary Lou, It's Late, Stood Up, Waitin' in School, Be-Bop Baby, Travelin' Man, Poor Little Fool, Lonesome Town, Never Be Anyone Else But You, It's Up to You, and Teen Age Idol. He was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and got his start as a child actor on the family’s TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

1986–A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 people and injures 140 others.

1991–All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations and the Soviet Union is officially dissolved.

1992–Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1994–This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC–11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC–10:00 to UTC+14:00.

1997–Opryland USA closes its gates forever, after completing its annual Christmas in the Park event. Eleven of Opryland’s former rides sit in pieces in an open field in Indiana, rusting amongst the weeds. They are: The Barnstormer, Chaos, Country Bumpkin, Dulcimer Splash, Little Deuce Coupe, Old Mill Scream, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Screamin’ Delta Demon, Sky Ride, Tennessee Waltz, and Wabash Cannonball. In 2002, most of the flat rides were sold as scrap to an independent contractor.

1997–Pianist, Floyd Cramer, dies of lung cancer in Nashville, Tennessee, at age 64. In the 1950s, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, the Browns, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers. As a solo artist, he had a big hit with Last Date.

1998–The European Exchange Rate Mechanism freezes the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and establishes the value of the euro currency.

1999–The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting President.

1999–The U.S. Government hands over the control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama.

1999–The Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking ends after seven days with the release of 190 survivors at Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan.

2000–Italian-American dancer and choreographer, José Greco, dies of heart failure at his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at age 82. He was known for popularizing Spanish dance on the stage and screen in America, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s.

2001–Actress, Eileen Heckart, dies of lung cancer in Norwalk, Connecticut, at age 82. She appeared in the films Miracle in the Rain, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Bus Stop, The Bad Seed, Up the Down Staircase, No Way to Treat a Lady, Butterflies Are Free, Zandy’s Bride, Burnt Offerings, Heartbreak Ridge, and The First Wives Club.

2003–Florida Splendid China Theme Park closes near Orlando, Florida. A $100 million attraction, which opened in 1993 on 76 acres just west of the main entrance to Walt Disney World, brought visitors the beauty and landmarks of China in miniature form. The miniatures included replicas of The Great Wall of China, the Leshan Grand Buddha Statue, The Forbidden City and more than 50 others. Florida Splendid China had no rides or bright lights: it was designed for relaxation and contemplation of the beauties of the Orient. Sadly, political controversy was a dark cloud over the park, leading to its demise.

2004–The official opening takes place of Taipei 101, standing at a height 1,670 feet.

2009–A blue moon and a lunar eclipse take place.

2010–Tornadoes touch down in the midwestern and southern United States, including Washington County, Arkansas; Greater St. Louis; Sunset Hills, Missouri; Illinois; and Oklahoma. A total 36 tornadoes touch down, resulting in the deaths of nine people and $113 million in damages.

2011–After 40 years, The Bodhi Tree bookstore closes in West Hollywood, California. Located in a charming old house on Melrose Avenue, it was known throughout the country by spiritual seekers of all types. The store with its smell of incense, hot tea, private nooks, and scattered chairs and benches, was literally an oasis in the sprawling, frenetic city life of Los Angeles.

2011–NASA succeeds in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites into orbit around the Moon.

2014–A New Year's Eve celebration stampede in Shanghai kills at least 36 people and injures 49 others.

2014–Actor, Edward Herrmann, dies of brain cancer in Manhattan, New York, at age 71. He appeared in the films The Paper Chase, The Day of the Dolphin, The Great Gatsby, The Great Waldo Pepper, Eleanor and Franklin, Reds, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Overboard, and The Emperor’s Club.

2015–Belgian house raids result in the arrest of six people concerning a New Year's Eve celebration plot in Brussels, the nation's capital. And Munich's main train station and the station in the city's western district of Pasing, are evacuated during New Year's Eve celebrations because of potential ISIS suicide threats.

2015–Record flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries that has closed major highways, forced evacuations, and overflowed levees, continues to threaten the Midwestern United States, where at least 24 people have died.

A fire breaks out at the Address Downtown Dubai Hotel in the UAE. Fourteen people are injured.

2015–A fire breaks out at the Address Downtown Dubai Hotel in the UAE. Fourteen people are injured.

2015–Singer, Natalie Cole, dies of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California, at age 65. Her biggest hit was This Will Be.

2015–Stock car driver, Marvin Panch, dies of natural causes in Port Orange, Florida, at age 89. Winner of the 1961 Daytona 500, he won 17 NASCAR Grand National events during his 17-year career.

2015–Actress, Beth Howland, dies of lung cancer in Santa Monica, California, at age 74. She is best known for the role of Vera on the TV series Alice.

2015–Actor, Wayne Rogers, dies of pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, at age 82. He is best known for the role of Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre in the TV series M*A*S*H. He appeared in the films The Glory Guys, Chamber of Horrors, Cool Hand Luke, WUSA, The Killing Time, and Ghosts of Mississippi.

2016–China, with their largest television network China Central Television, announces a new launch of a global media platform and renaming the network China Global Television Network.

2016–A leap second will be added on December 31st to bring UTC (Coordinated Universal Time or CUT) more inline with mean solar time.

2016–Actor, William Christopher, dies of small cell carcinoma in Pasadena, California, at age 84. He is best known for the role of Father Mulcahy on the TV series M*A*S*H. He also appeared in the TV shows The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, Gomer Pyle: USMC, That Girl, Columbo, The Love Boat, and the soap opera Days of Our Lives.

PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Roman Emperor Commodus; the East India Company logo; Gramercy Park in New York City; a painting by Gustave Courbet; the first New Year’s Eve celebration held in Times Square in New York City; Rex Allen; Anthony Hopkins; John Denver; Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; Val Kilmer; Heather McCartney; Donald Trump, Jr.; a manhole cover used for the Bell System; Opryland USA; the Panama Canal; Taipel 101; Edward Herrmann; and Wayne Rogers.

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